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Manchester City have made a £100 million offer for Aston Villa's captain Jack Grealish, as Pep Guardiola moves to complete the most expensive transfer in Premier League history.
City have finally tabled a huge bid for the England international and are increasingly confident of agreeing a deal, in the biggest move of this summer's transfer window so far which was revealed on the Telegraph's website on Friday.
Grealish has been one of Guardiola's priority signings this summer since City clinched the title and, after days of discussions, the champions have submitted a remarkable offer which will eclipse English football's previous transfer record of £89 million for Paul Pogba in 2016.
The 25-year-old was set to return for training with Villa on Monday next week, after taking a break following England's involvement with Euro 2020, but City are hopeful of striking an agreement over the next few days.
It is understood that City may allow Bernardo Silva, the Portugal international, to leave the club as a result of Grealish's impending arrival.
Manchester City, Villa and Grealish's agent were all contacted on Friday and declined to comment on the record-breaking offer.
With Grealish now expected to undergo a medical early next week, this development was always an unwelcome scenario for Villa's ambitious owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens, who are targeting a return to European football with the club's best player at the forefront.
Villa have offered Grealish a new contract which will vastly improve his current terms of around £125,000 a week and have based their summer transfer activity on keeping their talismanic skipper.
But with City experiencing frustration in their attempts to sign Tottenham forward Harry Kane, Grealish has now emerged as their No. 1 target and negotiations are likely to be concluded swiftly.
This move from Guardiola now threatens to disrupt Villa's upward momentum and will end a long association for Grealish with his hometown club, after first joining as a six-year-old.
His age will be a significant factor in the move. Grealish will be 26 in September and is yet to play in European football at club level, which appears likely to have a major bearing on what happens next.
He holds his own personal ambitions and will know that a move to the Etihad will guarantee him Champions League football in September.
If Grealish does move, which now looks inevitable, there is no doubt that Villa will be very active in trying to ensure Dean Smith, the club's head coach, can continue their progress after finishing 11th last season.
Villa have already spent around £250 million on transfers in the last three years and the target of European football will not change, even with Grealish playing elsewhere.
Though Smith and Villa will be bitterly disappointed to lose him, they have already identified a number of options to replace Grealish in the event of him being sold.
Watford's Ismaila Sarr is understood to be one of their preferred choices, while they also admire Norwich's Todd Cantwell and Bayer Leverkusen's Jamaica international Leon Bailey.
Villa have held talks this week with Leverkusen over a deal to sign Bailey but the prospect of raking in £100 million from the Grealish sale could see them prioritise other signings.
James Ward-Prowse, the Southampton midfielder, has emerged as another potential target though the south-coast club rejected a £25 million proposal from Villa on Friday. Southampton are also insistent that Ward-Prowse, an England international, is not for sale in this transfer window.
Villa have already smashed their own transfer record this summer with the £33 million capture of Emiliano Buendia from Norwich City.
Guardiola, meanwhile, will be extremely satisfied with the recruitment of Grealish, after publicly admitting his admiration in the past.
Kevin De Bruyne, City's Belgium international midfielder, is also thought to be a huge fan of the Birmingham-born player.
Since winning the title City are yet to make any major squad additions but Grealish will represent a huge statement of intent as they aim to defend the Premier League crown.
Guardiola begins the new campaign next Saturday in the Community Shield against Leicester City at Wembley. They then face Tottenham in their opening Premier League game on Sunday August 15.
Analysis: the development Aston Villa fans feared last summer
Grealish has been Villa's undisputed star man since their return to the Premier League, and the focal point of the club's ambition. He had arguably his best ever season in the last campaign, producing his best numbers despite missing much of the second half of the campaign with an injury.
At Euro 2020, he also impressed for England and appeared comfortable on the international stage under Gareth Southgate.
This is unquestionably the development Villa fans have feared all summer.
Villa's owners, Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens, are targeting a place in European football in years to come and Grealish is the player who they hoped would spearhead their quest.
This move from Guardiola now threatens those plans after finally making his much-anticipated move for Grealish, whose association with Villa began at the age of six.
Grealish will be 26 in September and is yet to play in European football at club level, which appears to be a major factor in what happens next. He holds his own personal ambitions and will know that a move to the Etihad will guarantee him the Champions League in September.
If Grealish does move, which now looks inevitable, there is no doubt that Villa will be very active in trying to ensure Dean Smith can continue progressing.
Villa have already spent around £250 million in the last three years and the target of European football will not change, even without the player the fans call Super Jack.